I made this tasty little number back in the fall when I came across an adorably-shaped squash at the farmer’s market and wanted to put it to good use. I meant to post it right away, but then the holiday madness started and I ended up working on so many different projects that I’d forgotten about this post up until a couple weeks ago when I came across the photos on my hard drive and became instantly ravenous. And now that I’ve finished putting the topcoat on our refinished hardwoods and am trapped in the kitchen literally waiting for the paint to dry, I actually have the time to share it. Hurray!
To prepare the gnocchi, I roasted a small winter squash in the oven to soften its flesh and make it easier to chop up. Then I pureed it with ricotta, creme fraiche, sage, and eggs to form a paste, worked in some flour, and voila! Gnocchi. I do need to emphasize, though, that the amount of flour will vary depending on the size of your squash and the humidity of your kitchen. With gnocchi, you want your dough to be just firm enough that it stays together and doesn’t get absurdly sticky on the floured surface, but you need to be careful not to add too much flour otherwise you start to loose the taste of the squash. After you cut off each little gnocchi piece, lightly roll it in flour to keep it from being as sticky while you continue cutting off little gnocchi bits.
To cook them, I fried them in a bit of oil and then tossed them in brown butter along with toasted hazelnuts, some fresh tarragon, and more creme fraiche (this stuff is seriously the best). The gnocchi gets slightly crunchy on the outside and puffs up on the inside when you fry it, creating one of the most enjoyable textural sensations of all time. I really cannot emphasize enough how delicious this stuff is, the crunch of the toasted hazelnuts, the nuttiness of the brown butter, the sweet zing of the tarragon, all paired with fluffy little winter squash dumplings. Your stomach and tastebuds will thank you!
On a side note, my kitchen remodel was recently featured on Design Sponge and The Kitchn, I’ll be writing about the extremely lengthy remodeling process here soon but you can hop over to those articles to get some general info and pretty pictures! I also have a recipe for blood orange margaritas over on Design Love Fest and a recipe for sesame drumsticks with umami rice over at One Kings Lane. They’re both ridiculously tasty, I promise!!
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Cut the squash in half, remove the seeds and innards from the squash and discard them. Place the squash on a baking sheet and rub the inside of the squash with the oil. Place in the oven and roast for 45 minutes or until tender when poked with a fork. Remove and allow to cool completely.
Use a spoon to scrape the flesh off of the tough peel of the squash. Place the squash in a food processor and discard the peel. Blend with the eggs, ricotta, creme fraiche, salt, and sage until a puree forms. Empty the mixture out into a bowl. Begin to add the flour, 1/4 cup at a time, and continue fold the dough onto itself in the bowl. Be careful not to over work the dough, only fold until the flour is just incorporated.
Once the flour is added, test the texture by grabbing a piece of dough and rolling it out on a well-floured surface until it is a 1/2 inch thick rope. It should be soft, and almost like mashed potatoes when you poke it, but firm enough that it holds itself together. If it keeps falling apart, add a little more flour, but only until it just holds together. You do not want to add to much flour. Cut the gnocchi into 1/2 inch thick rounds and then take a fork to the top of each round and gently press down horizontally to leave an imprint. Very lightly dust them with flour as you make them and place them on a large baking sheet lined with parchment paper, ridged side up. Please note that the dough will be sticky and that you should use a dough scraper to continually scrape off any dough that has become stuck to the work surface. Keep your hands floured while you work with the dough as well, but be careful not to incorporate too much flour as this will negatively affect the texture and taste of the gnocchi. Allow the gnocchi to rest while you prepare the remaining ingredients.